Dutch National Opera presents

Homo Instrumentalis a music performance about man and machine

This show was to been seen in March 2019

with compositions by luigi nono, georges aperghis and yannis kyriakides

Duration 1:30

Breaks 0

Language Greek, Italian and French

Surtitles Dutch and English

From spear to smartphone: over the centuries, human beings have developed countless tools to master their world. But do we really rule our technology, or are we in its grasp?

In short

In Homo Instrumentalis Silbersee brings together four compositions exploring our relationship with technology: Machinations by Georges Aperghis, La fabbrica illuminata by Luigi Nono and Ode to Man (part 1 and 2) by Yannis Kyriakides. We hear admiration for human ingenuity, fear of industrial machinery, as well as satisfaction with the conveniences of the digital world.

On the basis of these compositions, Silbersee blends song, dance, electronics and video art. Homo Instrumentalis is a visual music performance about man and machine.

Homo Instrumentalis. Westergastheater (Pazzanistraat 33), a place where industrial history and new developments meet.


Silbersee asked Yannis Kyriakides to compose two new pieces to stand alongside works by Aperghis and Nono. The first of Kyriakides’ works looks back from the present on a chorus from the tragedy Antigone, by Sophocles. It sings about the inventiveness of mankind, who controls the world with engineering and instruments. His second work looks forward to an unknown future, in which man and technology might be completely fused together.
Aperghis' masterpiece Machinations revolves around the tension between man and machine. This theme recurs in La fabbrica illuminata, by Luigi Nono, about factory workers. Along with the new pieces by Kyriakides, these works form the performance Homo Instrumentalis, a unique mix of singing, electronic music, dance and large-scale video projections.
Romain Bischoff: “The performance sketches a musical history of mankind. A journey through the ages in seven-league boots, ranging from pure music from Ancient Greece to cyber art, where the human voice is replaceable by a machine”.
Homo Instrumentalis had its world premiere at the Ruhrtriennale 2017. Following performances in the Netherlands and Belgium, this multidisciplinary production returns to Amsterdam for the Opera Forward Festival 2019.


A production of Silbersee, co-creation with the Ruhrtriennale (DE), De Bijloke (Ghent) and Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Amsterdam) | with the support of Fonds Podiumkunsten, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Ammodo | thanks to Ircam (Paris) for the development of the original electronics for Machinations.

    Tue 16 Oct Homo Instrumentalis-Financial Times****

    How do they do it? How have these performers memorised 90 minutes of such extraordinary complexity, how have they metabolised it into this one flawless, organic whole? Silbersee's performance seems beyond human, and perhaps that is part of the point. There are a number of things the evening is not. It is not emotional, it is not poignant, it is not pleasant or melodious. But it does dazzle and provoke, it is philosophical and breathtakingly virtuosic, and it truly does push the boundaries of the genre. (...) Homo Instrumentalis is not for the faint-hearted, but it is a phenomenal achievement.


Artistic Director

ROMAIN BISCHOFF (artistic director of Silbersee) is the artistic director and musical dramaturge of Silbersee.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Romain Bischoff
Johanne Saunier
Video Designers
Frederik Jassogne
Bart Moens (Hangar)
Lighting & Set Designer
Floriaan Ganzevoort (The Theatre Machine)
Costume Designer
Dieuweke van Reij
Dramaturgy Adviser
Wout van Tongeren
Fanny Alofs, Miguel Ángel Gaspar, Jennifer Claire van der Hart, Eléonore Lemaire, Jorge Morro, Carl Refos, Rianne Wilbers en Johanne Saunier
Wouter Snoei


Georges Aperghis - Machinations, 2000 – version Silbersee 2017

Luigi Nono - La fabbrica illuminata, 1964

Yannis Kyriakides - Ode to Man, part I and II, 2017 - premiere

Wouter Snoei - soundscape foyer, 2017 - premiere

This production is part of Opera Forward Festival and is made possible by:

Founding Partners Opera Forward Festival

Productionpartner Opera Forward Festival

Partners Opera Forward Festival

Jonge Musici Fonds, Mimi Cohen-Trijbits Fonds, Jade Fonds

Main sponsor Nationale Opera & Ballet